(b. ca. 1400, Vicchio nell Mugello, d. 1455, Roma)
Tempera on wood
Museo Diocesano, Cortona
In the predella below the Annunciation, near the two farthest edges, two scenes are painted (23 x 14 cm each). The first represent the Birth of the Virgin, the other The Virgin Consigns the Habit to St Dominic. There are five central scenes of the life of the Virgin, one after the other without interruption (23 x 183 cm), namely (from the left). Marriage of the Virgin, The Visitation, Adoration of the Magi, Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, Death of the Virgin.
This picture shows the scene of the Visitation. The event shown here is described in the Gospel of Luke. Immediately following the Annunciation, Mary 'went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth' (Luke 1, v. 39-40). The Virgin and Elisabeth embrace, the straight folds of their gowns showing a simplicity and reserve alien to the curvilinear trecento influences of some ofAngelico's mentors and contemporaries. Elisabeth, six months pregnant with John the Baptist, is given a wider girth than her cousin. Juda is represented by a series of simple, geometric forms, sharply lit but slightly thin and awkward. A woman makes her way up the hill path which lies in shadow below her. Behind her the sky and earth meet in the haze of a Tuscan summer.
This is the first identifiable landscape in Italian art. In the middle distance a lake, which no longer exists, spreads out in the Chiana Valley; beyond rises the town of Castigliona Florentino, and further distant the tower of Monterchi.